Special Report

The Worst Myths About Boosting Metabolism That Just Won't Go Away

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Exercise boosts metabolism long after you stop

Exercising burns more calories than sitting down, but that extra calorie burn doesn’t last for long after you stop working out. About an hour after your heart rate returns to normal and you stop sweating, your metabolism goes back to its resting rate, Nadler explained. This is why eating more because you have a session scheduled at the gym is a bad idea — you risk weight gain.

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Some foods speed up metabolism

A popular claim about foods and metabolism is that some foods and drinks can increase the metabolic rate by helping the body burn more calories and thus lose weight faster. There is little scientific proof for this, according to Nadler.

“It’s really about keeping blood glucose levels steady.” You want to eat more fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains because the body takes longer and needs more energy to break them down, she noted. This means you are full for longer and your body is burning calories at rest. Eating simple sugars leads to spikes in blood sugar levels and to quick drops. You’re hungry again and eating often, which can mess up your metabolism.

Alcohol doesn’t affect metabolism

Alcohol affects metabolism indirectly because it affects the liver. Alcohol — whether it’s a sugary cocktail or beer — is broken down in the liver. The organ, in addition to ridding the body of foreign substances like booze and extra sugar, also plays a role in how the body breaks down food to produce energy. Excessive drinking can damage the liver, which in turn may affect the way the body metabolizes fats and carbs.

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Eating late at night slows metabolism down

Metabolism is slower at night when you’re stationary or sleeping, but it never stops working. Calories consumed at night won’t change how the body turns them into energy. To lose weight you have to consume fewer calories than you have burned. The body will store extra calories as fat regardless of what time you eat them. The little evidence suggesting that eating late at night is the main cause for weight gain comes from a few studies on mice.

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Men and women have the same metabolism

Men tend to have faster metabolism because they have more muscle mass and less body fat than women. This means that while they are at rest, men burn more calories than women. On average, men’s metabolic rate at rest is 5%-10% higher.

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